New Food and Agricultural Biotechnology Initatives Anounced
May 3, 2000

Agricultural biotechnology holds enormous promise for improving the productivity and environmental sustainability of food and fiber production. In order to secure that bright future, the Clinton Administration is taking steps today to further our long-standing goal of sound science regulation and improved access to information. These steps are intended to build consumer confidence, ensure that regulations keep pace with the latest scientific and market developments and provide that voluntary product claims, such as labels, relating to biotechnology are truthful and not misleading.

The Federal Government Has a Strong Regulatory System for Agricultural Biotechnology, a Sector That Holds Enormous Economic and Environmental Promise. The U.S. regulatory approach to agricultural biotechnology applies principles of sound science to ensure that there are no unacceptable human health and environmental risks associated with the use of these crops and that they are safe to enter into commerce. This system, encompassing the food safety and environmental regulations of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency, has resulted in rigorous scientific review of products, while providing a predictable regulatory environment that fosters scientific advancement and product innovation.

The Administration's Actions Today Will Strengthen our Science-Based Regulatory System and Facilitate Reliable, Voluntary Labeling Practices. The Administration's actions today will ensure that science remains the cornerstone of our nation's regulatory system --- keeping up with recent advances in genetics, ecology, and health --- and that federal oversight of these products remains strong. In addition, they will facilitate voluntary efforts by producers to differentiate non-bioengineered commodities through the development of accurate and reliable testing and quality assurance procedures and through guidance for the content of product labels.


Reinforce the Strength & Transparency of Science-Based Regulation

Enhance Information for Consumers and Farmers

These Initiatives Reaffirm our Science-Based Regulatory Approach and Improve Public Access to Information. These initiatives reaffirm the federal government's confidence in its independent, science-based regulatory approach to agricultural biotechnology. They also reflect that, as science and industry advance and consumer interest grows, it is appropriate to maintain the strength of our regulatory framework and ensure that information available to the public about the technology and to consumers about food products is balanced and accurate. In so doing, Americans will be in a better position to realize fully the enormous promise of this technology.


Reinforcing the Strength of Science-Based Regulation

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will conduct a 6 month interagency assessment of Federal environmental regulations pertaining to agricultural biotechnology and, where appropriate, make recommendations to improve them.

The FDA will take steps to ensure that it is informed at least 120 days before new agricultural biotechnology crops or products are introduced into the food supply.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will support an expanded program of competitively awarded, peer-reviewed research focusing on current and future safety issues to expand the existing body of independent science on biotechnology derived foods.

Enhancing Information for Consumers and Farmers

FDA will develop guidelines for voluntary efforts to label food products under their authority as containing or not containing bioengineered ingredients in a truthful and straightforward manner, consistent with the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
USDA will work with farmers and industry to facilitate the creation of reliable testing procedures and quality assurance programs for differentiating non-bioengineered commodities to better meet the needs of the market.
USDA, FDA, EPA, and the State Department will enhance domestic and foreign public education and outreach activities to improve understanding of the nature and strength of our regulatory process.

USDA will work closely with the State Department to ensure collection of timely information on overseas markets, and will provide farmers with reliable information on markets to inform their planting decisions and with best farming practices for new crop varieties.

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